Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: A man becomes trapped in a piece of industrial machinery which crushes his lower body. Unable to extricate him without restarting the machine and killing him, his fellow workers keep him alive with painkillers long enough for his wife to arrive and kiss him goodbye. The workers then restart the machine.
Example: [Excerpted from HBO's 'Taxicab Confessions' series]
Besides the general apprehensions we all have about falling victim to accidents, this legend plays on the terror of knowing exactly when we (or one of our loved ones) will die. Accidental deaths take us by surprise, sudden deaths are unanticipated, and even the imminent deaths of those suffering from lingering illness can rarely be predicted within a few days. Now imagine you've just been notified that your spouse, who left for work the picture of health a few hours ago, will die within minutes. He's fully conscious, he's in no pain, and no power on earth can stop him from dying as you watch. Is the pain of that last goodbye really worth it, or would you prefer that he had just been finished off all at once?
The horror of being the instrument of someone else's death is another aspect of this legend. Although the victim will surely die from his injuries in a short time, it is left to emergency personnel or his
Sightings: This legend showed up in the TV series Homicide and the 2002 film Signs.
Last updated: 14 July 2006
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